“Future Crimes: Inside the Digital Underground and the Battle for Our Connected World,” is a New York Times bestseller by Marc Goodman. This book is an absolutely fascinating, shocking and insightful journey into the nefarious world of cybercrime.
Criminals are using technology to facilitate crime on a massive scale that never has been possible before in human history. Many times these offenses cross national boundaries. This type of crime takes advantage of high-reward, low-risk profits available to them in a globally connected world. Cybercrime is borderless and offers great anonymity; moreover, prosecutions are exceedingly rare, perhaps occurring in less than one one-thousandth of one percent of all cases, Goodman says.
If you are a law enforcement officer, I recommend reading this book. The future is now and it’s impacting us in ways most are not aware. This book is an easy read and not filled with computer-nerd jargon. You do not have to be a systems analyst to understand the concepts discussed. The author has done a great job explaining how criminals are using technology. Everyone is threatened by the misuse of this technology. All of us are susceptible to becoming victims. Goodman points out that everything can be hacked.
Before reading this book, I recommend listening to Marc Goodman’s Ted Talk. This is a great introduction. Goodman breaks the book into three sections. Part one focuses on the gathering storm and serious vulnerabilities that exist. I enjoyed Goodman’s sense of humor and wit. His analogies such as “control the code, control the world,” “knowledge is power, code is king and Orwell was right” and “data is the new oil,” are supported with interesting facts.
Part two focuses on the future of crime and current threats that are impacting all of us. This is the most relevant section of the book. Goodman goes into great detail about the types of crimes being committed and provides a guide on how to learn more about the dark net.
Goodman thoroughly explains what the TOR (The Onion Router) and dark net are and how they work. Like a master story teller, Goodman begins using the Silk Road Criminal Case as an example. For three years, Ross Ulbricht “operated the largest online criminal marketplace in the world.” It was set up like Amazon.com. A person could purchase any type of drugs on the encrypted website.
Goodman explains how the FBI conducted an investigation and was able to shut down Silk Road. Unfortunately, other websites have replaced Silk Road. Some of these sites currently are being used today which include: Dark Net, Freenet, I2P (Invisible Internet Project), Open Market, Agora, BlackBank Atlantis and Pirate Market.
Criminals are able to log on without being identified. They can purchase the following goods and services: pirated content, drugs, counterfeit currency, stolen luxury items/electronics, credit cards/blocks of credit card account information, identity data (identity theft), documents, weapons, ammunition and explosives, contract murder (Hit Man), child sexual-abuse images, human trafficking, human organ trafficking and more.
The currency used in these transactions include: Bitcoin, Liberty Reserve, E-gold, WebMoney, Darkcoin. Monies are deposited in accounts that are difficult to track. Criminals also know they can evade detection. They can hide the IP address which means they can conceal their whereabouts. The dark net and TOR have exponentially made law enforcement’s ability to investigate these crimes more difficult.
Part three focuses on surviving in a digital universe and recommended courses of action. I recommend also reading the postscript appendix. Goodman discusses steps which will reduce your vulnerability. This can help protect your family and community.
Goodman has written an excellent book about the cyber threat. This threat is not going away. Crimes are being committed all over the world with the push of a button. In order to counter this threat, it is important to raise awareness. Goodman is sounding the alarm. It’s important that all segments of our government and other governments understand the threat. As law enforcement, we have a critical role to play. If we do not collectively respond to the cyber threat, it will result in dire consequences.